Trans health equality

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2012 National LGBT Conference
26 July 2012

Conference expresses concern about serious health inequalities still experienced by trans people, in general health services and services specific to gender identity issues.

Scottish Transgender Alliance (STA) research revealed:

1)Mental health problems, including suicide, self harm, anxiety and depression;

2)Lack of primary care facilities – many general practitioners having little or no knowledge of transgender people’s needs;

3)Lack of access to essential medical treatment for gender identity issues such as electrolysis;

4)Lack of understanding of care providers, with transgender people inappropriately treated in single gender outpatient and inpatient services;

5)Inconsistent funding and access to gender reassignment services;

6)Lack of support for children, young people and families with gender identity issues;

7)Social exclusion, violence and abuse, impacting negatively on health and well-being.

Conference recalls UNISON’s long-standing concerns about access to gender identity services being a post-code lottery. Conference notes the move to national commissioning of gender identity services in England, from April 2013. However, not all treatments will be funded nationally – funding of hormone treatments will probably remain subject to local variation.

UNISON has critical concerns about other changes resulting from the Health and Social Care Act which brings wholesale competition to the National Health Service (NHS) in England. The regulator will able to enforce competition law as they do with gas, water and electricity. Private companies will have a much greater role, despite scandals in other sectors demonstrating the dangers of this. Some services operate across borders so a more fragmented English NHS has implications across the United Kingdom.

Conference welcomes the NHS Scotland Gender Reassignment Commissioning Protocols published by the Scottish government in July, which should make treatment faster and more flexible, with guaranteed minimum standards of care. Trans people should be able to take charge of the direction of their treatment as it is much more patient-focused. The Scottish protocols reflect the World Professional Association of Transgender Health standards of care – the international benchmark of best practice.

Conference reaffirms the importance of using the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) and Human Rights Act to hold healthcare providers to account. Conference notes that many public bodies, even those who express commitment to trans equality, fail to deliver improvements.

Conference calls on the National LGBT Committee to:

A)Work with regional LGBT groups to:

I)Continue to campaign against privatisation and marketisation of the NHS;

II)Promote the importance of tracking compliance with the PSED and human rights;

III)Encourage activists in England to get involved in with new NHS structures such as local HealthWatch and Clinical Commissioning Groups;

B) In liaison with the trans caucus, work with trans organisations such as Gender Identity Research and Education Society and STA to:

I)Develop and promote best practice guidance on trans healthcare;

II)Seek to ensure the Scottish protocols are properly implemented across Scotland;

III)Use them to lever up practice across the UK.